FeaturedFeminism

Gloria Steinem: Women #FeelTheBern Because They’re Boy Crazy

CN: Transphobia, sexism

If there’s one thing better than acting as if women have to vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman, it’s being told young women only support Sanders because of their age. Bonus points if you tie youthful inexperience to desire for a man!

In a strange interview with Bill Maher, Steinem asserts that women “get more activist” as they grow older and that young women might flock to Bernie in an effort to meet men. For those of you who don’t want to suffer through an entire Bill Maher segment, the relevant portion starts around 3:34. About a minute later, Steinem drops this gem:

“When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’ The boys are with Bernie!”

For once I feel like I had a similar reaction to Bill Maher: “Ooooo…”

Contrary to what Steinem may believe,  young women are perfectly aware that the “D” next to Sanders’ name isn’t shorthand for, “We want the D!” We are well-informed voters capable of thinking with our brains and not just our ballot boxes (hey-o!).  Not only is her comment heteronormative, but it’s exactly the same sort of patriarchal condescension that supposed feminists like Steinem should be fighting against.

Later in the interview, Steinem also joins Bill Maher for one of her old (supposedly disavowed) pastimes: transphobia.

Maher: “The woman of the year [Caitlyn Jenner] has a dick!”

Steinem: “And the highest-earning female in the corporate world [Martine Rothblatt], too, was a male previously.”

Maher: “There’s no rules anymore.”

Yikes.

I won’t rehash the litany of reasons young women might have for not wanting to support Hillary. There has been plenty of digital ink spilled there, as well as about the idea that trans women get residual male privilege. If Gloria Steinem wants to convince younger women to vote for Clinton, she’d benefit from ditching second-wave feminist reasoning and trying to learn from the people she’s maligning.

Featured Image by Marnie Joyce

Alex Rudewell

Alex Rudewell

Alex Rudewell is an intersectional Buddhist feminist. Her myriad talents include clogging your social media with pictures of her chihuahua, and occasionally her begrudging cat. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can follow @alexrudewell on Twitter.

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2 Comments

  1. February 6, 2016 at 5:14 pm —

    A lot of Hillary supporters are now trying to excuse Human Rights Campaign’s history of bi- and trans-exclusion (among other, shall we say, problematic tendencies) as well.

  2. February 7, 2016 at 9:19 pm —

    I notice that there are reports that Ms. Steinem apologized for her remarks, but the quoted apology sounds more like a typical not-pology — “that’s not really what I was saying.”

    The thing is, there’s a much more obvious reason why young people — of all sexes — might be attracted to Sanders: he’s offering change. He’s got radical new ideas. He’s saying what more conventional politicians — like Clinton — seem afraid to say or even think. This is a pretty sure-fire way to attract idealistic voters, especially young and idealistic voters. Sanders is merely the latest.

    I say “especially young” because I used to hope that getting people with radical new ideas elected might make a difference. (E.g., I voted for McGovern.) But I’ve seen too many people who promised change get into office and not change things all that much. Obama is merely the latest. So I’m not convinced that Sanders’ inspiring rhetoric will translate in practice into anything different from Clinton’s, and I suspect that’s a reason Sanders doesn’t have quite the attraction for older progressive voters that he does for the younger ones.

    As for Caitlyn Jenner’s wealth and fame being due to male privilege — well, that’s true, but it’s due to Bruce Jenner’s male privilege. It seems like a no-brainer to figure out that a rich male celebrity who transitions is likely to remain rich and famous after transition. Those AMABs whose lifestyle depends on a paycheck generally have a rather different experience when they transition. If anything, the “before and after” experiences of trans men and trans women who continue to work in the same field after transition offer the the clearest illustrations of the privileges you get by being male (or perceived as male, if you prefer.) And incidentally demonstrate what utter BS the claims that trans women get “male privilege” are.

    BTW, I don’t know if Caitlyn Jenner has a “dick” or not, and I don’t think it’s any of our business. Maybe I’m showing just how old-fashioned and last-century I am, but discussing someone’s genitalia on national news (or should I say “news”?) seems like what people nowadays call a “dick move.”

    She also brought up the old stereotype (quoted elsewhere) that men get more conservative with age. Well, I’ve lived as a man for all of my life (so far), and in that time, I’ve only gotten more and more radical. I’ve been a feminist for pretty much all of that time and used to have a lot of respect for people like Steinem and Greer. I’m beginning to feel that their time has passed, though.

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